2020 Winter

On a Pedestal: Moe Coleman Awards, Kiski School, Women in Leadership

Finding someone able to debate politics with civility and respect is difficult today, when public discourse all too often turns coarse and divisive. Former Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey and his “across the aisle” friend, Duquesne University law professor and former Pittsburgh deputy mayor Joseph Sabino Mistick, are trying to cultivate more people who are …

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A Graphic Look at Pittsburgh

Frank Santoro’s “Pittsburgh” is a loving portrait of his Swissvale family, a rich evocation of Pittsburgh’s recent past and a complex exploration of how memory informs the present. After years in California and New York, Santoro now lives in his late grandparents’ home in Swissvale. Internationally revered by his peers, he is one of the …

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Where Nature and History Collide

Here are a few state parks in Pennsylvania that offer nature at its most dramatic and some history of what life was like long before barcodes, internet and smart phones. McConnells Mill The park wraps around a restored 19th century gristmill that ground buckwheat, oats and corn with the force of the wild stretch of …

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Protecting the Parks

The flat-headed, mucus-covered salamander recently named Pennsylvania’s state amphibian goes by many names: snot otter, lasagna lizard, devil dog, mud-devil, grampus, Allegheny alligator. Most commonly, however, they’re known as the Eastern hellbender. The big, slimy amphibians are found under large, flat rocks in Pennsylvania’s fast-moving rivers and streams, such as the Youghiogheny River. They rarely …

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Mill 19: A Magnificent Blend of Past and Future in Hazelwood

At an early September opening for Mill 19, the new robotics research incubator and office space in Hazelwood’s former LTV Steel site, a robotic arm participated with scientists and dignitaries to help cut the ribbon in the voluminous lab space with a high-tech flourish. Tenants include Carnegie Mellon’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the affiliated nonprofit …

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Tim Smith, Pastor and Founder of Center of Life

My mother’s name was Emma Liaura Muskelly and my father’s name was Virlie—Virlie Joseph Smith. Mom was from Pittsburgh, one of nine children, and worked in many of the schools that my siblings and I attended, tutoring, doing teacher’s-aide stuff, and lunchroom work. Dad was from Virginia, a little place about 45 minutes from Roanoke …

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Fallingwater and Bear Run Nature Reserve

Southwestern Pennsylvania now has a world Heritage site. Fallingwater, designed in the 1930s by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Kaufmann family, was inscribed this summer to the UNESCO—United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization—World Heritage List. It’s in good company: the few structures in the United States on this list include Independence Hall, the Statue …

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California Dreaming

Back when his parents built the Fox Chapel home he now owns, it was called modern. And modern it was in 1955, when architects Derek Martin and Grant Curry designed the sprawling, boxy residence. “My parents were devotees of Frank Lloyd Wright. They loved his style and wanted to do something different. At the time …

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Was Herbert Simon the 20th Century’s Galileo?

In the mid-1980s a journalist visiting Carnegie Mellon from France suggested that a statue of Herbert Simon should join those of Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Galileo and Bach in front of Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute. At the time, I considered this a bit of Gallic hyperbole, but now I don’t. Simon came to Carnegie Tech in 1949 along …

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Pretty in Peat

The Machrie Hotel sits on grass-covered peat fields, a low-slung array of modern buildings that sprawl across the landscape like an apparition. Just completed last year, the newest addition to the Campbell Gray luxury hotel chain is on the Isle of Islay, home to some of the best scotches in the world. But Islay is …

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Skibo Castle: Andrew Carnegie’s Extraordinary Estate

Turning into the long drive that leads to Skibo Castle, one can imagine what it was like for Andrew Carnegie to arrive at his Scottish home back in 1899.That was the year he purchased the estate, hoping his young daughter Margaret would grow to love his homeland. In this, the 100th anniversary of his death, …

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Barker, Jarzebowski, Henderson, Mustain, Breese, Interiano

Elizabeth E. Barker is the executive director of The Frick Pittsburgh and the first woman to lead the institution. Her appointment begins in December. She comes to Pittsburgh from Belmont, Mass., where she was the director of the Boston Athenaeum, an independent library, exhibition center and cultural venue founded in 1807. There, she helped increase …

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An Answer from Abroad

If southwestern Pennsylvania is going to pull out of its long population slump, it’s likely going to happen with people like Khara Timsina. He arrived in Pittsburgh 10 years ago, one of fewer than 300 Bhutanese refugees resettled from camps in Nepal, where they had lived after being driven from their homeland during a period …

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Snow Birds Fly Away—to Pittsburgh

When we hear of snow birds this time of year, the first thing that comes to mind is probably grandparents in Florida. “At least,” we think to ourselves, “they have the good sense to fly somewhere warm.” The same might be said of a bird that I never see except in western Pennsylvania’s coldest months: …

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The Economics of Population

Last spring, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County once again lost population. In what has become a ritual, public officials were pressed by reporters to respond. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald suggested not reading too much into the latest of a long string of down years. Pittsburgh …

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Bridging Ayn Rand and Pittsburgh

While conducting research for “Atlas Shrugged” during a cross-country train trip in 1947, Ayn Rand wrote in her journal what she saw when she came upon Pittsburgh while traveling east: “From the parkways, to the old, vertical houses on steep hillsides, to the slums, with narrow, cobblestone streets—then the sudden view of the river and …

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The Flavors of Pittsburgh

The Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every Pittsburgher knows these holidays and celebrations. But less familiar are the many religious and secular holidays celebrated by ethnic communities in the region. Photographer Teake Zuidema documents five festivities that took place this year.   Cinco De Mayo in Beechview Many bars in Pittsburgh offer Mexican beers …

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Fisher, Roseman, Ziegler, Stein, Roderick, Hillenbrand, Pessolano, Booth

Dr. Bernard Fisher, 101: Dr. Fisher was a giant in the field of breast cancer, leading large-scale randomized clinical trials that revolutionized understanding and treatment of the illness. His earlier surgical work included performing the first kidney transplant in Pittsburgh and doing pivotal work that cleared the way for future liver transplantation. Believing that data …

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Trying to Save a Horse

There have been phone calls in my life I wish I’d never received. I was cold and wet from swimming in an Irish lake when I returned to the house to see my husband standing in the driveway. Waiting for me. That wasn’t normal. My father had called. My mother was dead. She was unloading …

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Is it Really Better to Give than to Receive?

Dr. Gary Swanson has been the recipient of two gifts given in his honor: a goat donated to a family in Africa and trees planted along the streets of Detroit. As someone who likes goats and hails from Detroit, he appreciates the thoughtfulness behind these gifts. But, research shows it was the gift giver who …

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Nuts About Nutcrackers

When Steubenville comes to mind, you probably don’t think of the Rust Belt town as a travel destination. Mayor Jerry Barilla has been intent on changing that and the narrative of industrial decline that has dominated the town. Its population of 18,000 is less than half what it was in 1940—between 1980 and 2000, Weirton-Steubenville …

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Andy Warhol Returns to Pittsburgh

On an autumn evening in Pittsburgh 40 years ago, a larger than usual, fancier than typical, and more expensive than ever event was staged as an acquisition benefit for the Carnegie Museum of Art. On this special Saturday night, 250 formally dressed ladies and gentlemen entered the Heinz Galleries to find a simply decorated space …

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